23 Nov 2015

BLOG TOUR: FIRSTS by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Today on Books and Ladders, I have an intriguing and beautiful 
Guest Post
by the wonderful 
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
whose debut novel 
will be published on January 5, 2016! If you haven't already seen, I reviewed this book over on Queen of the Bookshelves (and gave it 5 stars because it was flawless). Laurie's guest post today is all about toeing the line between what makes a decision and a mistake. Thank you again to Laurie for writing this beautiful post for me! Be sure to check it out below. But first, let's learn a little bit about the book...


Author: Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes nrver had herself.

Keeping what goes on in her bedroom a secret has been easy- so far. Her absentee mother isn’t home nearly enough to know about Mercedes’ extracurricular activities, and her uber-religious best friend, Angela, won’t even say the word “sex” until she gets married. But Mercedes doesn’t bank on Angela’s boyfriend finding out about her services and wanting a turn- or on Zach, who likes her for who she is instead of what she can do in bed.

When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
The Fine Line Between Decisions and Mistakes

“I take a deep breath and recall one piece of advice from Kim. The only piece that ever held weight with me. Always lift your chin up high when you did something wrong. Because you might know you did something wrong, but nobody else has to.”

When I started writing FIRSTS, I knew I wanted to write something bold and challenge myself to not hold anything back, and I also knew I didn’t want to write a book with a “moral.” I write for teens—to give them stories they can relate to and help them feel less alone, not to pass judgment or teach lessons.

As I wrote, I started to think a lot about the difference between decisions and mistakes, the fine line dividing the two. Decisions have a good reputation. Everyone has to make them—they’re an integral part of life. We’re faced with choices every day—small ones, like what to eat for lunch, and big ones, like what job to apply for or what city to reside in. High school is a time when decisions are literally all over the place, flying in your face, smacking you in the head, reminding you what’s at stake. What college are you going to? What do you think you’ll major in? Are you taking calculus or advanced chemistry? Should you go out with that guy, even though your friends hate him? Should you try to sit with the weird girl in the cafeteria, or would you become weird by association?

And a huge decision that lots of teens are faced with: Should I sleep with him/her?

This choice plays a central role in FIRSTS, and it’s something that Mercedes and the guys she sleeps with question. It was Mercedes’s decision to offer her virgin classmates the opportunity to get their awkward first times over with, judgment-free, and it was the choice of each guy to take her up on it. But was it a decision or a mistake, and who gets to determine the difference? And who’s to blame?

Mistakes have the bad reputation. Mistakes are the chain-smoking older sister of decisions, the leather-clad friend your parents call a “bad influence.” When you make a wrong decision and people brand it a mistake, judgment follows. And with judgment comes labels and shaming and sometimes, public ridicule. If you make a big enough mistake, it follows you around, dogs you like a shadow and sucks you into the dark.

The problem is, people rarely know the whole story. Rumors start and snowball and it’s easy to believe something you heard, but what do you really know? In FIRSTS, Mercedes is a character with a lot of secrets, some buried deep for a reason. It’s easy for her peers to make her the scapegoat, to slap her with labels and reduce her to four-letter words. But she’s not the only one whose decisions cause hurt in this story. People want to put a face on a mistake, because that makes it easier to dehumanize the person making it. But is it fair that the face they choose is hers?

We’re commended for making choices that other people deem “right” and demonized for making mistakes. And that’s not fair. I want readers to take that away from Mercedes’s story. I want every reader to look at his or her own “bad” decisions and know that they’re not alone in making them. As a teen, when I felt like nobody understood me, I would get lost in the pages of a book and find solace in a character. As an author, I consider it the greatest privilege to hopefully do that for somebody else.
Laurie Elizabeth Flynn writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her debut, FIRSTS, will be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin’s Press on January 5, 2016.
Laurie went to school for Journalism, where the most important thing she learned was that she would rather write made-up stories than report the news. She also worked as a model, a job that took her overseas to Tokyo, Athens, and Paris. Laurie now lives in London, Ontario with her husband Steve, who is very understanding when she would rather spend time with the people in her head. Laurie can mostly be found writing happily at her desk, with the world’s most spoiled Chihuahua on her lap. Laurie drinks way too much coffee, snorts when she laughs, and times herself when she does crossword puzzles. Laurie is represented by the amazing Kathleen Rushall of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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